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Adventures on the Border: Del Rio, Texas

Although our time in Del Rio was cut short by repairs, we managed to pack in a lot during our week-long stay.

Exploring Del Rio

Del Rio is a city of 35,000 just across the US-Mexico border from the much larger Ciudad Acuña. Its most charming side is its historic downtown.

300-year-old Spanish chapel

We had fun checking out the local Mexican food.

Tasty? Yes. Visually interesting? For sure.

Imported chairs at La Hacienda restaurant, located in a nearly 100-year-old building

I’ve never been a huge fan of refried beans, but I could eat a whole plate of the beans they serve at Julio’s. We also brought some of their appetizers home with us.

Sneak peek of our new kitchen backsplash too… shh!

We enjoyed a peaceful stay at Hidden Valley RV Park, tucked away in a residential part of the town.

Blue skies every day

Because the RV park had once been for mobile homes, the sites were huge. Our rig’s front yard was probably as big as our house‘s had been.

The park, which was surrounded by farmland and orchards, was just down the street from the oldest winery in Texas

Amistad National Recreation Area

Despite all this, when we told people we were heading to Del Rio, most asked, “Why?”

This lovely reservoir is why.

We were eager to see one of the nearby attractions, Amistad National Recreation Area. It features a 100 square mile reservoir that is stocked with bass every year.

Josh the angler

It’s an oasis at the edge of the Chihuahuan Desert, providing hydroelectricity for the town and plenty of opportunities for recreation.

And unparalleled photo ops

Amistad translates in Spanish to “friendship,” giving the Reservoir special meaning, as its waters are shared by the US and Mexico.

Dovahkiin looking fly

Although most of its waters are inaccessible to the public by land, the drives along the reservoir on Highway 90 and its offshoots are scenic.

Black Brush Point

We saw sheep and goats everywhere. Even in the middle of the road.

But because we scared said sheep in the road, the only photos we captured of them were of their butts.

So here are some in a pasture instead

Train racing opportunities were stifled by all the Border and Highway Patrol officers.

Totally kidding. We’re responsible drivers.

But the sunsets sure were beautiful.

Sunset is also, incidentally, one of the best times of day to fish for bass

Seminole Canyon State Park

The highlight of the trip was Seminole Canyon State Park, a small site full of nature and history located right on the Mexican border.

Quintessentially Texan

I had visited once before with my friend, Jessi, but only to tent camp overnight, so I hadn’t been able to take advantage of the park’s claim to fame: 4,000-year-old pictographs.

Lifelike, right? Just kidding, that’s Josh. Above him is one of the most impressive pictographs.

It’s suggested that the plantlike images in the photo below are the sotol, which was used for food, soap and more.

Humidity and dust are damaging the pictographs, but conservators haven’t found a good way to preserve them yet.

Some of the pictographs extend down the wall for several feet out of sight. Archaeologists hope that, by keeping them covered, they will be protected from the humidity and sunlight.

The clear pictographs on top are more recent, whereas the red smudge at the bottom is actually pictographs layered on top of each other.

In order to view Fate Bell Shelter and Annex, where the pictographs are located, visitors have to take a guided tour.

Escaping the sun in the Fate Bell Annex

Our ranger was super knowledgeable, helping us understand what a challenge living in this arid environment must have been 12,000-4,000 years ago.

The writing behind her was left by Southern Pacific Railroad workers from the 1880s

For the most part, the tour was hands-off to help preserve the important archaeological site, but we were permitted to touch this huge stone that is thought to have been a workbench for the Archaic-period people who sheltered here.

The surface felt like bumpy glass

The limestone walls of the canyon are very porous, meaning the red ochre and other minerals used in the pictographs needed to be mixed with a emulsifier and coagulant to keep them from soaking in. The implication of this is serious: that the pictograph artists had to give up precious fat and protein from their diet to make their paints.

Check out the stairs on the right for scale

Although no one knows who created the ancient pictographs, they have inspired modern artists like Bill Worrell, who created this 17-foot bronze statue that now makes its home in the park.

It incorporates many of the images found in the pictographs

Even without the pictographs, Seminole Canyon is a special place.

The canyon is usually dry, but recent rains had left pools of water

It was great to share an afternoon here, marveling over all it had to offer.

The state park is small but mighty

A Chance Meeting

There was another full-time Rving couple in our tour group at Seminole Canyon. Stacey and Joe started traveling around the same time we did, departing from their home in Ottawa and heading south for warmer weather.

After striking up a conversation, they kindly invited us to see their rig. We were blown away by how cool it was.

Meet “Wee Beastie”
She’s an Expedition Vehicle
I was totally enamored

At the end of the day, we’re grateful to have more square footage to call home (and office), but we were definitely taking notes from Wee Beastie’s ability to boondock with ease.

Joe and Stacey couldn’t have been nicer impromptu hosts, and we were so glad for the chance to meet them and see their super-cool house on wheels. Thanks for the tour, guys!

Have you been to Del Rio, Amistad Reservoir or Seminole Canyon? What was your experience?

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